1200 Calorie Diet Plan

[For lots of information about the ins and outs of following a low calorie diet see: 1200 calorie diet]

I created this plan to help you lose weight with a balanced and healthy diet. Achieving nutritional balance when eating only 1200 calories a day can be very difficult. I also planned the diet to allow for a significant amount of dietary fiber and enough protein to help fill you up and keep you satisfied till your next snack or meal.

If you eat lots of high fiber, low calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables that also have a high water content, you will find that you can eat a greater volume of food. Eating a greater amount (volume) of food seems to be more satisfying for most people than eating a smaller amount of energy dense (high calorie) foods.

Protein foods have been shown to delay renewed hunger after a meal or snack longer than either fat or carbohydrates. Including a source of protein in each of your meals and snacks may also help to reduce cravings and the tendency to overeat.

Do keep track of your calories. This plan is just a guideline. The actual calories in each of the food choices can vary considerably. I recommend and use MyFoodDiary.com. You can read my review here.

I’ve included links to the most recent 1200 calorie diet sample menus that I’ve posted, at the end of the page. To determine whether or not a 1200 calorie diet is appropriate for you, read my article on getting started with a 1200 calorie diet. For more information about how to be successful with weight loss on a 1200 calorie diet I encourage you to see my list of articles, tips, and more on following a 1200 calorie diet

Please Note: This diet is a guideline for education only. You are responsible for checking with your family physician when going on a low calorie diet.

1200 Calorie Diet Plan for Women


Fruit (2-3 svgs) Choose from:

4 oz. juice (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup sliced/chopped cooked or raw fruit
(fresh, frozen, or canned.)

1 whole medium piece of fruit

1/4 cup dried fruit

Vegetables (2-3 svgs) Choose from:

4-6 oz. juice (1/2 – 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup fresh non-leafy vegetables

1/2 cup cooked vegetables

1 cup fresh leafy greens

NOTE: Choose at least 5 total fruit and vegetable servings a day for a healthier diet. Have no more than 1 serving of fruit or vegetable juice per day

Whole grain breads and cereals (preferred) (3-4 svgs) Choose from:

1/2 cup high fiber dry cereal (about 80-100 calories with
4+ grams of fiber)

1 slice high fiber bread with at least 2 grams of fiber

about 1/2 cup whole grain crackers (less than 100 calories with 2+ grams fiber)

1/2 cup cooked whole grain (brown rice, pasta, cereal)

1 SMALL whole grain muffin (about 150-160 calories providing 1/2 svg whole grain plus 1/2 serving fat)

Refined grain breads and cereals such as white bread (Try to avoid on a 1200 calorie diet. Eat only when whole grain choices are not available.)

Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or beans (1-2 svgs) (OR 2-3 svgs if you choose not to consume dairy)

Choose from:

2 oz. lean meat, fish, or poultry

1/2 cup cooked dried beans (legumes)

1 egg

1 Tbsp. peanut butter or other nut butter

Nuts and Seeds (A healthy choice but higher in calories than many protein foods. Eat only on occasion.) Choose from:

1/2 oz. nuts

1 Tbsp. seeds

Low fat and nonfat dairy (2 svgs)

[UPDATE 2013 for Dairy Foods: Recommended but Optional- See discussion that follows at the end of the plan]

Choose from:

1 cup skim milk or 1% milk

1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese

1-2 oz. light cheese

1 cup low fat yogurt

Fats (1-4 svgs) Choose from:

1 tsp. healthy oil (such as olive oil or canola) or soft margarine

1 tsp. regular mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. regular salad dressing

2 Tbsp. light salad dressing

Sweets/other (1-2 svgs) Choose from:

1 tsp. maple syrup, sugar, jelly, or jam

1 gingersnap

1 vanilla wafer


Diet Plan by Lori Pirog, M.S. 2007-2013

[UPDATE 2013 for Dairy Foods:

NOTE: I am revising my recommendations with respect to milk and milk products to be more in line with recent updates by the Harvard University School of Public Health and other notable institutions of medicine and higher learning.

Low fat milk and milk products can contribute many important nutrients to a healthful diet. Calcium, in particular, is an important nutrient found in dairy products, HOWEVER, as Harvard University and others point out, milk isn’t the only source and may not be the best.

Good sources of calcium other than dairy include leafy green vegetables, beans (legumes), and some nuts and seeds as well as some fortified fruit juices, cereals, and non-dairy milks.

It is difficult to obtain enough Vitamin D from diet alone and not everyone gets enough from exposure to sunshine. For this reason the Harvard University School of Public Health and others recommend taking Vitamin D supplements. They also suggest that calcium and vitamin D may work best when combined in one supplement.

To read more about calcium and milk and what’s best for your bones and health you may want to click on the link to read a recent Harvard publication.

Dairy and Non-Dairy Alternatives also provide a significant source of Protein. Getting enough protein can be a problem on a low calorie diet especially as a vegetarian. If you forgo dairy then you may need extra servings of protein food. Choose your protein foods very carefully.]

For 7 Day Diet Sample Menus (week long menu plans) see: 1200 calorie diet

When I have the time, I am happy to provide you with suggestions to improve your chances for healthy long term weight loss success. However, the information I provide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. You are responsible for keeping your medical doctor informed about your health and consulting with him or her about your weight loss decisions.